US commentators concerned that ECEC “is about to fall off a cliff”
The Sector > Policy > US commentators concerned that ECEC “is about to fall off a cliff”

US commentators concerned that ECEC “is about to fall off a cliff”

by Freya Lucas

October 03, 2023

In the United States, 70,000 early childhood education and care (ECEC) programs are in jeopardy, with US$39 billion in federal funding made available through the American Rescue Plan Act set to expire. 


While in effect, the Act allowed American states to expand financial support to families directly, and it provided funding to early education programs to stay open amid economic instability. Throughout the pandemic, states additionally used Act funds to increase the salaries of early educators, who, like in Australia, are often paid poorly.


According to an analysis by the Century Foundation, the ECEC places of 3.2 million children are in danger if no action is taken to amend the expiry of the Act.Thus far, the American Congress has declined to solve the problem at a variety of possible points for intervention, including through deciding not to pass the Build Back Better provisions in 2022 that would have made ECEC funding permanent.


For families who have relied on the federal funding since the COVID-19 pandemic, the options are limited. They face costs for care rising by up to 15 per cent, and may be forced to reduce hours or leave the workforce altogether. 


The American Rescue Plan Act changes come against the backdrop of the expiry of the Child Tax Credit in 2022, a decision which caused the rate of child poverty to more than double the largest year-to-year increase in US child poverty on record.


The timing of the cessation of the Act funding intersects with federal student loan payments resuming, which is likely to further pressure household budgets. 


For further analysis and commentary around this issue please see here, here and here

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